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Thursday, 30 August 2012 16:37

Champions League draw

Barcelona, Manchester United and PSG on their way to Portugal

PSGCrest.jpgManUtd BarcelonaThe Champions League draw threw up a set of fascinating ties for Portugal’s three participants in this year’s competition. Benfica versus Barcelona, Braga versus Manchester United and FC Porto versus PSG are just three of the mouth-watering match-ups to look forward to.
First out of the hat were F.C Porto, who were among the top seeds in Pot One. The Dragons have been placed in Group A, alongside Miguel Veloso's Dinamo Kiev, Paris Saint-Germain and their new collection of superstars, and Dinamo Zagreb, current home of former Sporting centre back Tonel - who grew up in Santa Maria da Feira municipality and spent time on Porto's books as a youth player. With PSG's current form Porto will feel confident of progressing - though Veloso's Kiev were impressive in qualifying ahead of Borussia Mönchengladbach.  

Benfica, who took the other automatic qualification spot last season, were in Pot Two, and were therefore eligible to be drawn alongside European football's powerhouses. That has indeed come to pass for Jorge Jesus' side, who will face F.C Barcelona, Spartak Moscow and Celtic. Despite the presence of the Catalan giants, the Eagles will likely feel quietly satisfied with their Group G lot.  

Finally, to Braga. Os Arsenalistas sealed their spot at Europe's top table with a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Udinese on Tuesday, and have been rewarded with a place in Group H, alongside Manchester United, whom Benfica held to a pair of draws in last season's Champions League. Braga have good memories of England, having eliminated Liverpool on their way to the 2011 Europa League final, and will be hoping to find similar success across the Pennines. José Peseiro's side will also face Galatasaray, and Romanian champions CFR Cluj - who have a total of nine Portuguese players in their squad.   

There is also plenty of Portuguese interest to be found in Groups C (A.C Milan, Zenit St Petersburg, Málaga, Anderlecht), D (Real Madrid, Manchester City, Ajax, Borussia Dortmund), and F (Bayern Munich, Valencia, Lille, BATE Borisov). 

The full draw reads as follows:


Group A

F.C Porto
Dinamo Kiev
Dinamo Zagreb


Group B

Schälke 04


Group C

A.C Milan
Zenit St. Petersburg


Group D

Real Madrid
Manchester City
Borussia Dortmund


Group E

Shakhtar Donetsk


Group F

Bayern Munich
BATE Borisov


Group G

F.C Barcelona
Spartak Moscow


Group H

Manchester United
CFR Cluj

The 2012/13 Champions League begins on September 18th-19th, with the group stage concluding on December 4th-5th. 

Ben Shave 
Comments (15)
Start up the violins
15 Saturday, 01 September 2012 00:53
Yeah, the misconception is funny since Braga has just as much foreign talent as the "Big 3".

Benfica: 78% foreign players
Porto: 74%
Sporting: 76%
Braga: 64%
The SuperLiga in general is consisted of 57% of it being foreign players.

Oh I get it, Braga stars a few. Ok, can someone let me know what Portiguese players are so awesome and abundant that they could fill the "Big 3" and Braga and the rest?
Oh yeah, we shouldn't have loaned them out for profit.

Despite popular belief, I would love to have multiple Portuguese players starting at Benfica. Unfortunately that hasn't occurred. Frankly that hasn't occurred anywhere in our league. Is it clubs fault? Yes. But some of the blame has to fall on the players themselves as well.
Ultimately I want to see my Glorioso flourish and play great in the league and in Europe. I also root for the other Portuguese clubs in European play, no matter how much I dislike Sporting.
thanks Pedro
14 Friday, 31 August 2012 15:58
Funny how Braga seems to have no issue filling that void as they already play at least 5 on the field.

I grew up a Benfica fan (following family traditions) however, it was great back in the day watching Simao, Gomes, Nelson, Petit, Costa and Fernandes play in CL. Now it's all imports and I really don't have that passion for them any more. I will always support the Portuguese clubs in international play. Best this way, I can actually enjoy watching without freaking out every 3 minutes in Liga games....lol
To: kronic160
13 Friday, 31 August 2012 14:36
". . .by the 2008/09 season, each club would have in its 25-man squad four club-trained and four association-trained players." and "A club-trained player is defined as a player who has been registered for a minimum of three seasons with the club between the age of 15 and 21, whereas an association-trained player is one who has been registered for at least three seasons by the club or by other clubs affiliated to the same association between the age of 15 and 21. The proposals do not involve players' nationalities."

So they have Paulo Lopes (C), Mika (A), Luisinho (A), Cancelo (C), Miguel Vítor (C) and Carlos Martins (A) - with C standing for club-grown and A for association-grown. I guess Miguel Rosa, Cavaleiro and André Gomes are also strong choices for the list. And if Sílvio actually signs, things become even easier for them.

It's stupid having to resort to B-team players to fit the rules, but let's hope next year Benfica give a chance to their Portuguese talent.
Very Tough Roads
12 Friday, 31 August 2012 14:36
Homegrown talent doesn't mean Portuguese players, it just means you've had to have the player as a youth no matter where he's from. The definition of youth? Not sure.

As for the groups.

Group G
I was hoping we got Milan or Arsenal, but it was not to be.
- Barca is Barca, and a far better team than last seasons Man United. Their defense can be exposed badly, but good luck in getting the ball to counter. Teams can't be wasteful, and we are at times.
- Celtic will be very tough. They have little to no competition in the SPL, so their efforts will be very focused on advancing. Very loyal fan base, and very tough to win at their building. Far from easy.
- Spartak? Let's see. Heavy travel, bad weather, synthetic turf, crazy fans. Enough said.

Benfica, as I'm writing this, has lost Javi and Cardozo could be gone as well. If so, two huge experienced players that we relied on are no longer with us. Oh yeah, still no left back. Very tough.

Group A
Porto's road isn't any easier. I know PSG will go through growing pains, but their talent is outstanding. They'll get better as the season progresses. Yes Porto should finish 2nd, but it looks like Moutinho is gone, and I still expect Hulk to go. Good luck.

Group H
Ironically, I think Braga has the easiest group of the three. Man United should be in front, and yes the Turks and Romenians won't be easy. But compared to the other two Portuguese teams, these opponents aren't as tough.

As for the Group of Death, people are over hyping Ajax. Young and not very good. As for Dortmund, they were awful at season in the CL and have lost pieces. We'll see.
benfica's CL roster?
11 Friday, 31 August 2012 12:45
So after reading this rule:

From 2008/09, clubs in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League required a minimum of eight homegrown players in a squad limited to 25. These rules are also in force in several national leagues across Europe.

Who does Benfica possibly have after Mika and Martins (if he sticks around with loan rumors buzzing) as home grown talent? Now after watching Nelson, Veira, Yannick and other Portuguese talent get loaned out who the hell qualifies for the roster?
Champions League Draw
10 Friday, 31 August 2012 10:27
Group D (Real Madrid, Manchester City, Ajax Amsterdam and Borrusia Dortmund ) is group of Death.
Group A
9 Friday, 31 August 2012 09:51
Happy with this draw but like last year it could be more difficult than it first looks.

Dinamo Zagreb were a disgrace in last season's competition, losing all 6 group matches and suspiciously losing 7-1 at home to Lyon in the last game, just when Lyon needed to win by a big margin too overtake Ajax. I think they will do well to get more than 1 or 2 points.

So I think we could have a tight 3-way battle for the top 2 spots.

Kiev always plays well away from home, a good counter-attacking side - they will be tough, I remember them winning in Dragao a few years ago but us winning in Kiev.

PSG will have a lot of pressure on them to do well with their new big name stars, but they haven't coped too well so far in Ligue 1 and the pressure will be immense on them to get out of this soft-looking group.

Hopefully with Vitor Perreira having learned some lessons from last season and with Jackson leading the line instead of Kleber (we even played Hulk as the No.9 in some CL games last season) we should be more clinical.

We didn't have Lucho in the group stages last season, and his experience in this competition will be crucial, so all in all, I expect us to do a lot better and reach the 2nd Round as a minimum.

Benfica & Braga can both have ambitions but with a 'grande' in their groups there is not so much margin for error and therefore they will both have to be at the their best from the go...
Good draw for all 3
8 Thursday, 30 August 2012 18:48
As ever the draw could've been easier or harder for all 3 clubs, but I think all 3 will also be very satisfied, and each will fancy their chances to progress.

Benfica got the toughest draw of the 3, given that we have to play (what i still consider) the best team in Europe, Barcelona, and that therefore finishing top of the group will be very difficult. On the other hand, Benfica is definitely better on paper than both Spartak and Celtic...and it's just up to us to prove it on the pitch now and take the other qualification spot. Neither team should be under-estimated and both could be very tough away trips, but there is no question that we have a stronger squad than both. I am quite sure that JJ's unconditional attacking policy will not stop even against Barca, and the two matches with them should be very hot contests indeed, with both teams going for it.

Porto got an easier draw in theory, and should definitely take one of the two qualifying spots. PSG is a nouveau riche club and have made some big signings this summer. But they are far less experienced at this level than Porto and that could be key. Porto should really be able to finish ahead of the 2 Dynamos and get second place at the very worst. That said, their group was also relatively easy last season and look what happened. So it's best not to under-estimate anyone in the CL and not to anticipate any easy matches.

Braga have a great shot at qualifying from their group too. They have already shown at the start of this season that they remain very solid and hard to beat, but with more offensive strength now. Manchester United is a bit of a fading force at the moment I feel, and they have not made a great start to the season. Braga at their best could really give them good 2 matches. Galatasaray are always a tricky opponent, and Istanbul is a tough place to go to, while Cluj are an improving team with lots of foreign players (including quite a few Portuguese) in their squad. But I still think Braga have a terrific chance to progress.

All in all, the 3 Portuguese clubs should all be quite satisfied with the draw..
Happy as a Portuguese football fan
7 Thursday, 30 August 2012 18:19
As a Manchester United fan, I'm happy with our draw and i hope that Braga come in 2nd in our group.
As for Benfica, i think they should pass in 2nd as well if they perform well at home against Barca and perhaps get a point.
Porto should have no problem getting out of the group especially if P$G can't buy a goal.
draw is favourable
6 Thursday, 30 August 2012 17:45
to all portuguese teams.
i believe they have a great chance of making the round of 16.
on a side note...i cant believe how confusing, overly compilcated, and down right stupid UEFAs ranking and draw system is. They do so much to have this work as a science but it doesnt work.
In group D you have the 3 best teams from the 3 best leagues in the world (RM, BD & MC), how did that happen?
Very Balanced Groups
5 Thursday, 30 August 2012 17:35
All 3 Portuguese teams should be able to make it to the knockout stages. Braga got the easiest group which should give them no issues in making it to the knockout rounds. Porto got one of the easiest 2nd seed teams but that was balanced out with PSG which should be an entertaining match. Really looking forward to the Benfica v. Barca, and I think Spartak in our group could be the team to create issues.

If all 3 Portuguese teams can get into the knockout rounds, that would do wonders for the profile of our liga and potential money all clubs could see.
4 Thursday, 30 August 2012 17:21
Braga are rewarded with an easy group, they should definitely survive in Europe by winter and reaching the round of 16 in the CL is a realistic prospect, in fact I would be disappointed if Braga didn't reach the round of 16.

As for Benfica and Porto honestly I would say that both of them have a 50/50 chance of staying in the CL or heading towards the EL.
Excellent draw
3 Thursday, 30 August 2012 17:13
Benfica, Porto, and Braga were all very lucky with the draw.

As a benfiquista, I was a little worried when I saw that we were with Barcelona, but the other 2 teams in the group (Spartak and Celtic) are beatable. Anything less than second place would be a big disappointment.

Porto have a fairly easy group as well. PSG and Porto are definitely the favorites to advance, but I wouldn't be too optimistic if I was a Portista. They were in a easier group last year, and look what happened. Like Benfica, anything less than second place would be a failure, so hopefully they'll make Portugal proud.

As for Braga, Manchester United is always a daunting opponent for a up and coming club, but there is no reason why they can't take at least one point from them. Galatasaray and Cluj will not be easy adversaries, but when you look at the other groups, Braga was quite lucky with what they got. 3rd place and the Europa League wouldn't be bad at all, but I think they have a very good shot at making the round of 16.

2 Thursday, 30 August 2012 17:00
This is a great draw for Portuguese teams and I think it would be considered a failure if all 3 didn't qualify. Braga are definitely better than Galatasaray and Cluj by a large margin and should come 2nd, maybe even 1st if United is poor again. Benfica should easily finish in 2nd behind Barca, and Porto should compete with 1st for PSG however if they sell Moutinho then you never know if Dynamo Kiev could beat them out for 2nd like what happened last season. But really all 3 should qualify in 2nd at the very least.
Onwards, Braga!!
1 Thursday, 30 August 2012 16:57
Braga can easily finish 2nd or even at worst 3rd in that group, Braga will no doubt fail against Manchester United......... in Old Trafford!

Manchester United don't have a great record against Portuguese teams, especially in their stadiums, and the Estadio Axa will no doubt be packed full of enthusiastic Braga fans, so Manchester United may struggle.

As for my beloved Porto, I think we are perfectly capable of qualifying from that group, P$G will be the only real challenge, although so far Vitor Pereira hasn't impressed me in the Champions League. But even still we have a very strong squad and I believe we can progress.

Benfica....no worries for them, they came top in a similarly matched team last season, and their squad looks even stronger than last year, should be a walk in the park for them

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